Going to the Microsoft SharePoint Conference November 12-15, 2012 in Las Vegas? There are so many sessions, how do you choose?
I got an email from a friend with the following question and so I thought I’d publish my response, because I’d probably give it to you too if you asked.
I will be going to the conference in Las Vegas and could appreciate your suggestions for the best events/sessions to attend. First time there so any comments would be great.
Congratulations! SharePoint Conference is the premier SharePoint event with the most sessions dedicated to SharePoint of any Conference.
First off, don’t be late for the Keynote, you want a good seat. And don’t miss the official conference party. The former is sure to have announcements Microsoft and the SharePoint Product Team have been holding back for a reveal. The latter is a great social opportunity and a huge investment by Microsoft and your conference registration dollars.
Past that, my approach is different than some, but I tend to look first for speaker's whose name I recognize from their writing or previous conferences. Todd Klindt and Shane Young's session is always a highlight for me even though I work with them now, that will not change. Same with Randy Drisgill and John Ross. With my developer background, Andrew Connell, Scott Hillier and Ted Pattison are other favorites of mine.
Also, I will be attending a lot of sessions by those that have earned a Microsoft Certified Master in SharePoint certification. Spencer Harbar stands out in this category. He is an MCM instructor and funny. I’ll be honest, some other MCMs are not as practiced and entertaining as the other speakers I’ve mentioned, but they often have advanced technical content I look for. I do like to be entertained, but also I look to learn. And, I want to support the program and my fellow MCMs. Past that, I look for interesting topics and then see if I can find any background on the presenters to determine if I trust what they will be saying.
After all of that, I tend to be flexible at the conference. If I'm having a good conversation with someone and they are going to a particular session, a lot of times, I'll just go along so I have someone to talk to while waiting for it to start. Also, sometimes a presenter will be great and I'll want to catch any other session they do or ones they recommend. If I don't enjoy a session for any reason, I leave. I do that a lot and try to make up my mind quickly so I don't miss too much setup in another session.
Also, keep your ears out. Sometimes extra sessions or session details are added because they are under NDA until they keynote. Sometimes twitter buzzes with an excellent session and I'll leave for that one. Sometimes you hear about a can’t miss session you somehow missed.
Overall, you can't go wrong. You'll like some sessions more than others no matter how you choose, but you'll get something out of any session because of your focus on SharePoint and the experience level of the presenters.
P.S. Make sure to look out for me and say hi! I’ll be spending some time at the Rackspace booth where I and co-workers will be signing copies of our books throughout the exhibitor hours. Like last year, I’ll also be doing a book signing of SharePoint Foundation Inside Out 2010 Wednesday night at the O’Reilly and Microsoft Press booth with my co-authors.
Mark and Joel have put together some great guides to SharePoint Conference 2012, so if you want to read more, click through below.